December 9, 2011

Episode Review: CHUCK, "Chuck vs. The Hack Off"

Chuck went back to basics and gave fans some insight into our hero's life before the Intersect which made "Chuck vs. The Hack Off" one of the better episodes of the season.

At the end of "Business Trip," both Casey and Lester were carted off to prison for murder and attempted murder respectively. Chuck and Sarah tried to convince Casey to break out while Morgan and Jeff told Lester that charges would be dropped if he promised to not poison Jeff again, but both refused their friends' offers. Things got interesting though when Decker approached Chuck to make him a deal. If he helped the government find a dangerous computer virus, Decker would set Casey free, so Carmichael Industries was forced to work for the CIA yet again.

In order to find the virus, Chuck had to tap into his old hacker skills and found the creator of the bug that Decker was looking for, which led him and Sarah to a nudist cult. Since Casey was worried about his team, he convinced his new "friend," Verbanski, to help them out. While at the cult's compound, we got to see Chuck and Sarah's blurred out naughty bits and a pretty sweet girl fight. Luckily, they were able to find the virus' maker and took him back to Castle for questioning, and Chuck was told that the virus needed a distribution device that was back at the headquarters of a group of hackers known as the Collective.

Chuck posed as a hacker to infiltrate the Collective, and he had to win a "hack off" in order to be initiated into the group or he would lose his life. While he was distracting all of the bad guys, Sarah and Verbanski searched for the virus device and chatted about the latter's feelings for Casey. Verbanski admitted to being attracted to Casey but was afraid to commit and settle down because she couldn't see herself giving up the spy life, which got Sarah thinking about her future with Chuck.

Of course, Chuck and the gang were able to get away from the Collective, and they had just handed over the virus to Decker when he informed them that this was all a frame job. The plan was to release the virus, blame it on Chuck, and have the entire country hunt him and his team down. Before Decker could carry out his plan, Verbanski was able to pick his pocket, take back the virus, and plant a bomb that killed the big bad. Now, it's up to Chuck to find out why Decker wanted to set him up.

Sometimes it's hard to picture Chuck's life before the Intersect because we've only been given a small amount of information about who he was before Bryce Larkin sent him that e-mail. We all knew that he's good with computers, but learning that he was one of the most infamous hackers in the world was a nice character moment, and a side of him that I wish we could see more of. While I liked almost everything about the A-plot, I wasn't too jazzed about Sarah questioning her future because it feels like it's going to be the source of more fabricated drama between her and Chuck, and I was hoping we were done with all of those tricks. We'll just have to wait and see where this goes.

While Chuck and Sarah were on their mission, Morgan and Jeff were on their own in the Buy More B-plot. It was clear that Lester did not feel any remorse for trying to poison Jeff, and he felt that he had the upper hand because he thought he was irreplaceable. He was even starting to figure out how to survive prison by hooking up the inmates with cable and internet, which came in handy when Casey was about to be jumped for not joining a prison gang. Unfortunately for Lester, he wasn't as vital as he thought because Morgan and Jeff video chatted with him to introduce a new Buy Moron who looked a lot like Community's Abed. As it turned out, he was just an actor hired to play a Nerd Herder for an iPad 2, but it was enough to convince Lester to straighten up.

Usually, I'm indifferent about the Buy More plots because they either add very little to the overall story or are just bad, but this time around I enjoyed it, and I think Danny Pudi had a lot to do with it. When I learned that Pudi was going to have a cameo on Chuck, I was super pumped because he was the perfect person to drop in because of his work on Community. I was a little concerned at first though because I wasn't sure if he was just going to pop up like he did on Cougar Town, or if he was going to be a real character, so I was relieved that he had a prominent role and played against type. Let's hope he shows up again.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Casey getting it on seems wrong.
  • The Piranha. Enough said.
  • Swordfish came out in 2001, which would've put Chuck in his early-20s when it came out. So that means Hugh Jackman was supposed to be playing a college-aged Chuck Bartowski?
  • Chardonnay = Thinking Juice
  • How does Casey always get stuck playing straight-man to all of the bafoons on this show?
  • Buttered popcorn jelly beans are pretty great.
  • Danny Pudi's been singing a lot this week. He should show up on Glee next as Figgin's son, and they can make a movie about it.
  • Yvette Nicole Brown showing up at the Buy More was just as great as Pudi's. I still think Alison Brie needs to be cast as a Greta.
  • "Wow. I haven't seen this in a long time. We used to call this routine 'The Routine.'"
  • "I had a messed up childhood."
"Chuck vs. The Hack Off" wasn't the funniest episode of Chuck ever, but I'll gladly give up cheap laughs for interesting character moments, and that's what we got from this one. The twist involving Decker was a bold move to make, and I'm genuinely excited to see where the rest of the season goes from here.


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